Feb. 11, 2013
University of Michigan director of athletics Dave Brandon will regularly offer his view on a variety of topics related to U-M and intercollegiate sports. All his posts, along with links to related content, will be available on his page, mgoblue.com/brandon, and he is also on Twitter at @DaveBrandonAD.
What is WEON?
These four letters seem to be a question for many fans who have watched the Michigan men's basketball team this season. They see it on our team's warm-up shirts and as a hashtag on Twitter, but few realize what it really means and how WEON was created.
Last summer, assistant coach LaVall Jordan and director of basketball operations Travis Conlan guided the student-athletes to develop their own internal theme. Not a marketing theme for the public, but a theme the team could call their own. A theme that would remind everyone affiliated with Michigan basketball what they would have to do every day to help this team be successful.
WEON is an acronym for "When Everyone Operates N-Sync." It is an outgrowth of the core values of the program -- unity, passion, appreciation, integrity and diligence. Those four letters help this basketball team take ownership of those values.
The idea didn't stop with those four letters. WEON spawned another idea. To stay focused, to stay "ON" their game, the team designed a special "fuse box" to be created and placed in the locker room. Each day, each player must flip his switch "ON" when he is engaging in any basketball activity on site. The switch is located in the locker area, and it turns on a light that illuminates a personal saying each individual has selected for himself.
For Josh Bartlestein it is "perspective," for Nik Stauskas it is "pride," and for each member of the team it is one word they have personally selected to link them back to the team's core principles.
This is not just a perfunctory flip of the switch; it is taken seriously. During one practice, it was noted that a few of the players did not flip their switch "ON." The coaching staff stopped practice. Everyone returned to the locker room. Then the coaching staff reminded the players the importance of the "fuse box" and the team values it represents.
The "ON" switch is directly related to the team concept. Every player on the team has to be held accountable for the one aspect he must bring to the table every day. It is the foundation for the team's success.
Last year's mantra was "The Team, The Team, The Team." This season, the terminology is different, but the principle remains the same.
WEON is a motivational tool, not just an acronym.
I have received a few emails and tweets from those who object to what they perceive as a misuse of the English language. WEON is not meant to be critiqued as a literary piece. It is a unique symbol created as part of a team-building process, initiated by young men who now have ownership in a motivational tool and a process to achieve success. (Who, by the way, occasionally communicate with one another using terms and language not always found in an English grammar book -- which we believe is very normal and quite acceptable!)
These four letters are helping our student-athletes learn an important life lesson.